After visiting New York for the first time, Collishaw was stuck by the unlimited amount of fast food on offer from the world. He created various tableaux of these banquets in the style of Dutch still lives from the 17th century, which were generally painted to boast of the plethora of ingredients available in the expanding world. When applied to the present day, where in the West our over-abundance of food has removed any connotations of wealth and luxury, it appears ludicrous and ugly. The wastefulness means it is more likely to be interpreted as a pile of rubbish than a feast.
Collishaw became very despondent at the cosmetically doctored images of flowers that appear on greetings cards and calendars. He made flower pictures where he grafted animal skins onto the surface of various flowers by computer. The resulting images had an aggressive animal appearance much like his idea of flowers, as they actually are, indifferent sexual predators.
Collishaw finds it curious that people so often record and document things going on around them, and can’t quite appreciate the existence of something unless they capture and preserve it.
Catching fairies was meant as an allegorical expression of this thought.
In the images, Collishaw stands to his thighs in muddy water vainly attempting to capture fairies in his fishing net. These beings by definition are ephemeral, which makes his pursuit futile and absurd: to capture them would be to destroy them.
When his newborn son arrived home, Collishaw became preoccupied with disinfecting the flat, involving killing bugs and insects that had made their way inside.
He began printing laser images of these flattened creatures by placing them into 35mm glass slide carriers. This process graduated to desktop scanners where he could directly scan the crushed insect.
The scan resembled nothing at first, but Collishaw would look for facets of an image that could be manipulated into something identifiable.
Many single mothers lived in the area around his studio in Bethnal green. Collishaw photographed some of them with their babies in the style of Georges de la Tour; intimate, romantic, and impoverished.